Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Vox Media’s Video, Audio, and Motion Graphic Professionals Review the New Mac Pro

Nilay Patel, the Verge:

At the same time, the Mac Pro is not a single product. There are no stock configurations aside from the it-has-to-start-somewhere $5,999 base setup, and the machines won’t be sold in the company’s retail stores. Apple’s expectation is that customers will configure almost every Mac Pro to order, all the way up to a top spec with a 28-core Intel Xeon W processor and two AMD Radeon Pro Vega II Duo GPUs that hovers near $54,000. Simply figuring out which Mac Pro to review in a way that reveals something interesting has been a process.

Making things more complicated, while Apple did provide Mac Pro units to a few excellent YouTubers who use Final Cut Pro, it has not offered any traditional review units to the press, citing the above-mentioned difficulties in picking a representative spec sheet. So we ended up buying our own Mac Pro. (Apple did seed reviewers with the Pro Display XDR, which we also reviewed; you can find that here.)

So to get this right, we needed to find a configuration that is broadly representative of what pro users might actually buy, allows us to investigate Apple’s performance claims, and hopefully reveals something interesting about what pro users might experience if they upgrade to this machine. And we needed to do all of this knowing that we wouldn’t just send this machine back when the review was done, like we do with every standard review unit. This one was going to be ours to keep.

Happily, we have a bit of an advantage: The Verge is part of Vox Media, a company full of media professionals who use a huge variety of software to work on everything from Netflix shows to print magazine design. And of course, The Verge’s own art and video teams make illustrations and motion graphics for our site and YouTube all day long. So we called in a few friends, let everyone use the Mac Pro and Pro Display XDR to work on their various projects, and had them report back.

I thought this was a good review of how the new Mac Pro works by dropping it into an existing environment. Vox staffers seemed a little underwhelmed by its performance at this time, but that’s mainly because their Adobe Creative Cloud apps have not yet been updated to take advantage of the Mac Pro’s power, and partly because the Afterburner card currently only works with ProRes video files.

The hardware is, as Patel says, just one piece of a much more complex professional workflow. But the fact that this piece even exists — especially with its level of care and attention to detail — is remarkable in its own right.